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Transforming Professional Practice Through Self-Active Play

by Marcia L. Nell and Walter F. Drew
May/June 2011
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/transforming-professional-practice-through-self-active-play/5019955/

Imagine walking into a room, soft music playing. Adults fully immersed in the wonder of play with an abundant assortment of unique open-ended materials including little wooden blocks, cardboard tubes, colorful plastic strips, red felt circles, cork discs, yellow and red plastic caps, gold and silver streamers, shiny copper caps, red and black plastic cubes, bamboo pieces, fabric, yarn, string, shells, rocks, wood scraps, wire, twigs and branches, beads, buttons, little silver metal beads placed on black velvet fabric, and colorful foam shapes. The non-representational, unprescribed nature of these types of materials intrigue our imagination and tap into a basic human need to explore and then express thoughts and feelings through self-active play.

In this article we make the case for why adults engaging in their own self-active play experiences with materials and with others is key to understanding children’s play and promoting developmentally appropriate practices (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Jones & Reynolds, 1992; Nell, Drew, Klugman, & Jones, 2010). It is through constructive play experiences that adults are able to understand how children learn through play. Adults construct genuine understanding of the importance of play to children’s learning through their own active adult play with open-ended materials (Jones, 2007).

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